“His permissions are purposes.”

Straight from Desiring God, again… 😉

Japan: After Empathy and Aid, People Want Answers

Permalink

Priorities

First things first.

When Christians see suffering they feel empathy. We too have bodies (Hebrews 13:3). Therefore, love commands, “Weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).

Then comes aid. We want to help relieve human suffering—all of it, especially eternal suffering:

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10).

And that includes enemies:

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you (Luke 6:27);

If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink (Romans 12:20).

But sooner or later people want more than empathy and aid—they want answers.

Proclamation and Power

When love has wept and worked, it must have something to say about God. It doesn’t need to have all the answers. Only God does. But it has the Bible, and the Bible is not silent on this matter.

No earthquakes in the Bible are attributed to Satan. Many are attributed to God.1 This is because God is Lord of heaven and earth.

He commands even winds and water, and they obey him (Luke 8:25);

He sends forth His command to the earth. . . . He gives snow like wool; He scatters hoarfrost like ashes. He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before His cold? . . . He makes his wind blow and the waters flow (Psalm 147:15-18);

He looks on the earth and it trembles . . . touches the mountains and they smoke! (Psalm 104:32);

[He] shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble (Job 9:6).

Earthquakes are ultimately from God. Nature does not have a will of its own. And God owes Satan no freedom. What havoc demons wreak, they wreak with God’s permission. And God has reasons for what he permits. His permissions are purposes. That’s the point of Job 1-2 and Luke 22:31-32.

Purpose

God does nothing without an infinitely wise and good purpose:

He is wise and brings disaster (Isaiah 31:2);

The Lord is good (Psalm 100:5);

All his works are right and his ways are just (Daniel 4:37).

Therefore, God has a good and all-wise purpose for the heart-rending calamity in Japan on March 11, 2011 that appears to have cost tens of thousands of lives.

Indeed, he has hundreds of thousands of purposes, most of which will remain hidden to us until we are able to grasp them at the end of the age:

How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! (Romans 11:33);

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us (Deuteronomy 29:29).

Yet there are possible purposes revealed in the Bible that we may pray will come to pass:

  1. The end-time earthquakes in the book of Revelation (see above) are meant as calls to repentance—to warn people who deny Jesus Christ that a day is coming when unbelievers will cry to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:16).
  2. The end-time earthquakes in Matthew 24:7-8 are meant to be interpreted as “the beginning of the birth pangs.” That is, they are a wake-up call to this world that God’s kingdom will soon be born. So be alert and prepare to meet Jesus Christ.
  3. God’s unilateral taking of thousands of lives is a loud declaration that “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21). The message for all the world is that life is a loan from God (Luke 12:20) and belongs to him. He creates it and gives it and takes it according to his own will and owes us nothing. He has a right both to children (2 Samuel 12:15) and to the aged (Luke 2:29). It is a great gift to learn this truth and dedicate our lives to their true owner rather than defraud him till it is too late.
  4. The power felt in an earthquake reveals the fearful magnificence of God. This is a great gift since “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10). Most of the world does not fear the Lord and therefore lacks saving wisdom. The thunder-clap summons to fear God is a mercy to those who live.
  5. When the earth shakes under our feet there is a dramatic sense that there is no place to flee. In most disasters the earth is the one thing that stands firm when wind and flood are raging. But where do you turn when the earth itself is unsafe? Answer: God.

Pray

And let us pray that in this catastrophe the Lord fulfills two other purposes:

  1. That Christians repent of worldliness. “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
  2. That Christians in Japan and around the world would step forward with extraordinary, sacrificial love to show more clearly the mercy of Christ who laid down his life in the midst of the Father’s judgment. The suffering and death of Jesus Christ for the sin of the world is the one place where empathy, aid, and answers meet. He invites everyone to come for all three.

O how fragile this life is. The world, and all its life-sustaining processes seem so sure and solid. They are not. One thing is sure and solid:

Let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28).

Advertisements

Trust. Yikes.

Another DesiringGod blog post for you…

Permalink

What are you more concerned about today: where Jesus is leading you, or whether you really trust him?

I can tell you what Jesus is most concerned about: your trust.

When Jesus informed the disciples that he was going away and that they could not follow him where he was going (John 13:33), Peter asked the natural question, “Lord, where are you going?” (John 13:36). But Jesus didn’t answer with the kind of information I imagine Peter was looking for at that moment.

Jesus Knew, But Didn’t Answer

Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen and why. He knew where he was going. He knew that the church age would bridge his first and second coming. He knew this age would be much longer and harder than any of those men would comprehend.

But he also knew that most of those details still would not yet make sense to them. They would understand later. But before he would bring more clarity about his will for their lives, they would need their presumptions, false conceptions, and self-confidence to crumble. They would need to believe in his power and faithfulness at a much deeper level.

Jesus Doesn’t Share Our Urgency

Frequently, Jesus doesn’t share our urgency for us to know exactly what he’s doing or where he’s leading us. His reasons for withholding that information are always good. His will for us is our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3). And what that usually means is some form of “believe in…me (John 14:1).

Jesus is your Good Shepherd (John 10:11). A benefit of being a sheep is that you don’t need to know the way. You just need to trust your Shepherd.

“But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD”

A few things…

a) Please be praying for Japan.

b) I spent the week with missionary wives… Awesome. Simply Awesome. I felt at home with them… studying the word and talking about His work in their lives abroad. Granted, I’m neither a wife nor a mother, so a few conversations were a little awkward for me… but I learned from them nevertheless. I learned that He is good and life is often not. Life hurts. Families hurt. Friendships hurt. Living a selfless life in the ministry hurts. Being a light amidst darkness hurts. But these momentary troubles are worth the pain that they may cause when you’re working with Him. (Are you working for God or with God? There’s a big difference between the two.) I think I’ve had this mental image of what “missionary life” would look like in my head, and I’ve quickly come to discover that my image is wrong in many ways. Many of these women serve with their families in the relational sense: They live and work in these communities around the world – sharing the love of Christ to others through church planting, discipleship, prayer, friendship, and service. They’re not “Bible beaters”; they’re lovers. I want to love like that.

c) I haven’t written much to you all recently. I have been keeping a written journal the past few weeks and it’s been a great change of pace. Although this blog has been therapeutic for me (and helps to organize my many thoughts), no one seems to read it. And that’s okay! My original intent in putting this together was for Him to use it as He saw fit. Maybe He has used it and I have unknowingly helped someone in their walk. Or maybe it has just been beneficial for me and that was His purpose all along – no need to involve other readers. Journaling by hand feels more intimate and personal to me. It’s more accessible, too. I will still be writing from time to time (and, who knows, my hand may tire and I might switch back to WordPress), but I’m enjoying the freedom I have with Him, my Bible, a pencil, and my little leather journal.

d) Joshua has been an encouraging book to read, on many levels… “Be strong and courageous”

e) I was reminded of my name… Christina. The feminine form of Christian. Greek meaning “annointed”. Christ-bearer. Follower of Christ. …I’ve resented my name since I was a young child for various (silly) reasons, but I’m beginning to see why He encouraged my parents to unknowingly change it to “Christina” at the last minute. He had a bigger plan for me. Even from the day I was born. The way He works blows my mind.

Lots of love,

Christina

“Do not let your hearts be troubled…”

I found this blog post on Desiring God today. It’s an awesome reminder of some important scripture and I thought it might be worth while to share. Enjoy 😉

Permalink

Jesus’ words “let not your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1a) are comforting. But this it is not merely counsel. It is a command. What Jesus is saying is that in the face of trouble—terrible trouble—we must not allow our hearts to be troubled.

How is that even possible?

Jesus’ answer: “Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1b).

When Jesus spoke these words, he had just informed the disciples that one of them would betray him and Peter would deny him that night. On top of that he said he was going away. He meant death and later ascension. This was very troubling news. But it was not to trouble them.  Why? Because Jesus’ promise was that their brief sorrow would turn into indestructible joy (John 16:20-22).

A Promise For You and Me

Jesus promises this to you and me today. Tribulation will come, but he has overcome the world (John 16:33). Every thing is literally going to be all right for those who believe in him.

Like Jesus in the boat with his disciples when the storm hit, trouble usually has the appearance of being in control. But just because we can’t control trouble does not mean trouble is in control. Jesus is in control and he’s in the boat with us.

Believing this completely changes the way we see the storm. It is the key to not being troubled by trouble.

That’s why Christians are called “believers.” “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). We don’t trust appearances, no matter how compelling they look today. We trust God’s promises, no matter how unlikely to be fulfilled they appear today.

Obey Jesus’ comforting command: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1).

Troubled But Not Troubled by Jon Bloom

Blessings,

Christina

You make me smile

In the matter of one day, I:

  • Asked for prayer
  • Spoke to a Navy recruiter and passed a preliminary eligibility test
  • Heard testimony of a strong Christian in the military who’s serving Him overseas in Iraq
  • Saw “Navy” on too many cars (but maybe that’s just because I’m aware of that type of thing now)
  • Spoke with Mrs. S and was so encouraged
  • Met a boy and trained with him – he’s heading off to the Naval Academy next year. Not to mention, the whole coaching staff is ex-military.
  • Spoke with the medical recruiter in my area (who called me twice already) and talked logistics… he sounded genuinely excited for me and ready to get some additional info together. He’s emailing me today with info on the OT Navy scholarship… tuition, living, food, medical, and dental. All covered. Wow.
  • Stumbled (literally) across http://www.armyotguy.com. It’s the personal website of an Army OT, who is living out IAmSecond. Yeah… don’t even have to explain how happy that made me!
  • BEST OF ALL: I’ve been reading through Joshua recently (it’s my new book). That’s been a blessing in so many ways, especially reading about Joshua’s courage while commanding the Israelites. Anyhow… my daily verse today (the ones that are randomly emailed to me) was Joshua 1:9. God, You make me smile.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Still praying lots,

Christina


GO NAVY

I met with my adviser today to discussed my post-grad plans. I won’t lie to you, I’ve been a little nervous the past week or so just thinking about the meeting. So many important decisions are about to be made… Will I make the right choices? Ones that I won’t look back on with regret? (I mean, I’m really not too worried because I know that He is sovereign, but there are still very real and life-changing choices that need to be made. SOON. That places a lot of pressure on the situation!) We talked about things like… Where do I want to complete my field work placements? What areas of OT am I interested in? What are my strengths and interests? Where do I see myself geographically? How important is money to me now, and in the future? What am I going to do with my life??

Once again (and not per my doing), I was brought someplace familiar (and scary)… Navy OT.

Can I serve Him in the Navy? Are the financial and career benefits worth it? Is my heart into it? I have nothing holding me back but myself. So… call the recruiter or not?

Yikes,

Christina